The seriousness with which Ina Daou takes her morning routine at the Muso office in Bamako is quite befitting of a Finance Director—a position she’s held with Muso since 2014. It is precise, reproducible, and held to the highest standards of quality.
Hot coffee, consumed quickly, followed by sweet rice cereal with milk, hot, sipped from a cup; a local favorite. To complete her ritual, Ina checks in with colleagues and trades teasing banter— when not at her desk, Ina is most easily found by following the sound of unmistakable laughter echoing through the halls.
Ina’s finance and accounting experience began a decade ago first in the U.S. and later at home in Mali. While studying finance at American University in Washington D.C., Ina racked up internships. Early on, she reported directly to the CFO at a small company. “I was lucky. I wasn’t filing papers or making copies. I was in it from the beginning.” Soon after college, she was hired as a Junior Accountant with the American Association of Justice. She was quickly promoted to Staff Accountant, and worked there until her return to Mali in 2011.
“I know the American financial system. I could see my first [internship] company going bankrupt as it was happening. But the Malian financial system is different.” To get up to speed, Ina took an internship with a local CPA firm in Bamako to learn how other local organizations functioned, primarily by conducting audits, which allowed her to methodically learn the intricacies of the Malian financial system.
Ina soon transitioned to a contracted consultancy position within the same CPA firm, managing the finance departments for the Mali-based offices of the Millennium Development Goals project and One World UK. She also managed the finances for high-stakes USAID-funded projects, as well as for UN Mine Action, during transitional peace negotiations between the government of Mali and insurgent groups in northern Mali. It was Ina’s former colleague at the Millennium Development project who urged Ina to apply to Muso. “It was a good fit.”
When Ina joined the Muso team in 2014, the organization was smaller than the agencies she was leaving, but Muso’s existing financial bookkeeping system presented a new set of challenges: to completely overhaul a paper-based system to align with financial bookkeeping quality standards, and make Muso’s financial system more transparent and accessible for all stakeholders.
These days, Ina oversee her Bamako-based team, as well as a finance outpost in Muso’s new, rural Bankass office, and coordinates with the U.S-based team. Her familiarity with USAID projects will prove invaluable in managing Muso’s recent USAID award. Supported by a decade of experience managing finance teams in both the U.S. and in Mali, Ina steps into new dimensions of finances and accounting with unassuming confidence. “I’m young. I want to learn. Let me try.”